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Interview Etiquette: How To Explain Your Family Responsibilities

Posted on the 18 November 2011 by Classycareergirl @classycareer

Dear Classy Career Girl, I wanted to get your advice on something.  I am in management and I’m actually looking to take a step back from the responsibility and hours involved to devote more time to my family and outside interests.  I’m concerned about trying to “explain” this in the interview process.  Any suggestions? Thanks, Classy Working Mom

Dear Classy Working Mom,

Thanks for your question!  Since I am not yet a mom, I went on a search for fabulous working moms that are doing it all with a blog on the side.  Here are their answers below.  Good luck in the interview!!

Our first answer is from the Working Mom Journal:

I am assuming that since you have made the decision to reduce your responsibilities and maybe even work part-time, you have gone through the process of considering your financial security, career growth and outlook, etc. We’ve all had the stay-at-home fantasy and sometime it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Be sure to know what you are up against, the culture of your company and if they do allow part-time or if bringing it up will ruffle some feathers. Who is going to take on your responsibilities and how much responsibilities are you willing to let go? These are all questions you need to figure out before going in.  But anyways, let’s talk about the interview process. One way to approach this situation is to create a list of what you hope to achieve with this interview and then map out questions that you need answered to achieve them. Don’t be shy about what you are about to say, as you are not going to be the first nor the last working mom to do this.

Treat this as a job interview, go in with all your strengths and how much you have accomplished, let them know how serious you take your job, family and everything you are involved with. The last thing you need is having them thing that you are dropping the ball on something because you are lazy and can’t manage your time effectively. Make them see the big picture of your life and that you will love to free up some responsibilities to pick up some extra family time and activities you are passionate about. Most managers understand that a happy employee is an engaged employee, and I bet they will be willing to meet you halfway.

Be open to alternatives. Your boss may propose that you work from home, or propose that you take a temporary break, whatever he/she proposes, be willing to consider.

Our second answer is from Mom Corps NYC (thanks to Jill at

This is a tricky thing to do well in an interview process, but it’s really important to be upfront and honest about where you stand. What I have seen work well is describing the various stages or seasons of a career – that you are currently at a moment where some other pieces of your life are demanding more of your time, but that you are committed to your career and want to position yourself for success in the role that you take on. Make sure you convey that you are ambitious, hard working and “hungry” for the position, but that you are making a choice to move into a position that gives you more control over your out-of-work time than your old role. The interviewer will be most focused on two questions: 1) Will you really be committed to the job with your family “distractions”? 2) Will you feel over-qualified for the position? Go into the interviewer knowing that these will be their concerns, and address them head on. Good luck!

A very special thank you to our contributors today!

Readers-What is your advice for Classy Working Mom?

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